SAN FRANCISCO — Like two heavyweights feeling one another out within the opening spherical of a championship bout, the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics opened the 2022 NBA Finals, with the Celtics putting the primary blow with a 120-108 comeback victory.
The Celtics received Recreation 1 with a scintillating 17-0 run within the fourth quarter, the second-largest spurt within the closing body of a Finals recreation over the past 50 seasons.
Like many NBA Finals Recreation 1s, Thursday night time’s contest started as much less of a show of shock techniques than two elite groups throwing their finest stuff at their opponents and observing what they’ll and might’t deal with. The Warriors confirmed off their elegant offense, filled with fixed movement and intelligent off-ball motion, to check the Celtics’ defensive precision. The Celtics labored their stretchy drive-and-kick recreation, patiently working for favorable matchups or open seems in opposition to the Warriors’ rotations. Each groups deployed their defensive switch-heavy schemes, with the Warriors dabbling in occasional zone protection.
With a rousing fourth-quarter comeback, the Celtics overcame a 15-point second-half deficit. In a flash, Boston unleashed a devastating barrage from past the arc. In lower than seven minutes, they nailed six 3-pointers, a lot of them closely contested. By halfway by means of the fourth, the Celtics utterly erased a deficit that stood at 12 factors to begin the quarter. All of the whereas, the Warriors turned ice chilly from the sector. Within the last tally, the Celtics outscored the Warriors 40-16 within the last body, changing 9-for-12 subject targets from deep, probably the most recorded by any workforce within the fourth quarter in Finals historical past, in accordance with ESPN Stats & Info.
Although the Warriors centered their defensive technique on first-team All-NBA ahead Jayson Tatum, it was teammates Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Derrick White who supplied the firepower throughout the Celtics’ blistering late run. Every topped 20 factors on the night time — Marcus Smart added 18 of his personal, together with 4 3-pointers — greater than compensating for Tatum’s 3-for-17 battle. For example the unbelievable nature of the efficiency, Horford’s six 3-pointers represented probably the most in any recreation of his profession, common season or playoffs. White, a catalyzing midseason acquisition, has enabled the Celtics to play small and with nice spacing. And Brown, so opportunistic within the move of the offense, by no means relented along with his aggressive play.
The Celtics do not boast the form of elegant offense that defines the Warriors, however they’ve established themselves as a lethal offense from lengthy distance. Coming into the Finals, Boston had tried 45.5% of their subject targets from 3-point vary — solely the Dallas Mavericks tried a better share this postseason.
These stout defenses — the NBA’s two strongest — could not do a lot to include the offensive explosion set off at Chase Middle within the first half. As robust because the Celtics have been defensively throughout the common and postseason, they uncared for the one most necessary crucial: Discover Stephen Curry early and keep hooked up.
Within the first quarter alone, Curry, searching for his first Finals MVP, drained an NBA-record six 3-pointers, 4 of them uncontested. His 21 factors within the opening body have been his most in any quarter in Finals recreation, probably the most by any participant within the first quarter, and the fourth-most general in any NBA Finals quarter — solely Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas have scored extra. In the end, the Warriors squandered Curry’s 34-point output.
The Celtics, who reached their first Finals since 2010 on the power of their protection, demonstrated that they’ve an offensive bag that may punish the Warriors’ defensive rotation on the appropriate night time. If Boston can pair a fraction of their offensive exhibition in Recreation 1 with their signature protection on three extra events, they’re going to have a chance to consummate a gentle nine-year rebuild following their legendary Large Three period.